By TJ Hernandez, 4for4
Special to Yahoo Sports
Whether you are playing in the biggest tournament of the week on Yahoo or prefer to play in smaller GPPs, there are some general GPP strategies that you can implement in contests of any size. These concepts include stacking, finding pivots off of popular players, and targeting players that won’t be on many rosters.
While it’s important to implement these into your lineup-building approach, the foundation of any tournament lineup is a solid core — usually players that you would use in cash games.
Stacks to Target
QB Taysom Hill, Saints ($24)
WR Michael Thomas, Saints ($29)
WR Julio Jones, Falcons ($28)
According to 4for4’s Stack Value Report, this three-man stack has a top-three ceiling. The news that Taysom Hill will start at quarterback was a shock to those prepared to roll out Jameis Winston but there is still plenty of upside here. The game total barely moved with the Hill news and this game still has an over/under sitting at 50.5, the third-highest on the slate. Like most mobile quarterbacks, Hill has scoring upside on the ground but that limits his ability to support multiple pass-catchers in large-field GPPs.
When active, Michael Thomas has accounted for nearly 35% of the Saints’ air yards and he saw his target share spike to 30% last week. With Thomas playing over 70% of the snaps for the first time since Week 1, Emmanuel Sanders was the only New Orleans wide receiver to play over half of the snaps. In what should be the highest-scoring game of the slate, Hill can support a double stack, a trio that should be in a relatively low number of lineups.
Julio Jones will be the most popular wide receiver of the week if Calvin Ridley is out but that will be offset with the Saints. If Ridley is active, it only helps this stack’s contrarian nature as Jones will see a depressed rostered percentage.
QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers ($32)
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers ($24)
WR Diontae Johnson, Steelers ($18)
Pittsburgh has the second-highest implied total on the slate (28.25) and while they may be the most popular offense on sites without Sunday Night Football on the main slate, the Chiefs will likely drive down the rostered rate of Steelers stacks on Yahoo.
Over the last six weeks, only two offenses have thrown at a higher rate in neutral game script and Roethlisberger has been one of the most efficient passers, posting the sixth-highest touchdown rate in the league. The issue with stacking the Steelers is that they have a diluted target share among their top three pass-catchers. Anyone playing 100+ lineups can simply mix and match Pittsburgh’s wideouts with Ben but those playing low volume have to plant their flag.
In uncertain scenarios where matchups don’t necessarily dictate volume, it’s usually best to go with the least popular option and Chase Claypool should be the Steelers wide receiver with the highest rostered rate. In this case, the trio listed above just happens to have one of the highest projected ceilings of the week.
Eric Ebron and James Conner are viable contrarian options for those that want an especially unique lineup.
Building a game stack with DJ Chark is certainly a reasonable strategy. With Jake Luton under center, Chark has seen 29% of targets and 45% of air yards. Against this Steelers pass rush, though, the floor for the Jaguars offense is frighteningly low and a full game stack is certainly not a must.
Contrarian Plays to Target
RB Salvon Ahmed, Dolphins ($17)
Salvon Ahmed was given the opportunity to show what he could do with starter snaps last week and the Miami coaching staff trusted him enough with 22 touches, which he turned into 90 total yards and a score. The Dolphins are favored against a Broncos defense that just surrendered over 200 total yards and four scores to Las Vegas running backs.
Matt Breida is set to return but Ahmed showed that he can handle a full workload and Breida’s presence will only keep Ahmed’s rostered rate in check.
WR Demarcus Robinson, Chiefs ($12)
Kansas City is projected for a Week 11 high of 31.75 points on Sunday night so their offense will be one of the most popular in DFS tournaments. With Mecole Hardman on the COVID list and Sammy Watkins popping up on the injury list Thursday for calf and hamstring issues, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce could see sky-high rostered percentages.
That makes Robinson the ideal contrarian candidate. He is the only Chiefs receiver besides Hill to play over 60% of the snaps this season and that snap rate spiked to 81% in Kansas City’s last game.
TE Logan Thomas, Washington ($18)
With Alex Smith under center for the majority of Week 9 and the starter in Week 10, Washington has thrown at the third-highest rate in neutral game script over the last two weeks. Smith has heavily targeted his running backs but those looks should be redistributed this week against a Bengals defense that is above average at covering running backs but ranks near the bottom of the league against wide receivers and tight ends. Terry McLaurin should be one of the more popular wide receivers in DFGS, making Thomas a great leverage play in what could be a sneaky high-scoring offense this week.
Cash Game Strategy
The backbone of my cash game approach is 4for4’s proprietary value metric, which goes beyond simple point per dollar projections. That value calculation extends to a player’s odds of hitting cash game value based on their implied volatility according to their floor, median, and ceiling projections.
The biggest decision point in cash games this week is whether or not to pay up for Dalvin Cook, the highest-floor player in the league. There is enough value across all positions to jam in Cook.
Cash Game Plays
QB: Lamar Jackson, Alex Smith, Cam Newton
RB: Dalvin Cook, Giovani Bernard, Kalen Ballage, Mike Davis, James Conner, Josh Jacobs
WR: Julio Jones, Diontae Johnson, Tyreek Hill, Keenan Allen, Tyler Boyd, Terry McLaurin, Jakeem Grant, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, Michael Thomas, Denzel Mims
TE: Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, Hayden Hurst, Kyle Rudolph
DEF: Falcons, Panthers, Chargers, Vikings, Steelers
Follow TJ on Twitter @TJHernandez
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TJ is a former full-time poker player who has been playing fantasy football for more than a decade. After online poker was outlawed, TJ ended his poker career and dedicated himself to fantasy football. His background in poker statistics and analytics translates to success in both daily and season-long fantasy football.